At first glance, all the judges agreed, Patagonia’s cover image of two rock climbers scaling an enormous, icy rock face is “stunning,” “dramatic,” and “breathtaking.” Though one judge didn’t know what to expect inside – “it could be a travel catalog, or it could sell motivational posters,” others decreed that “it’s unmistakably Patagonia.” And the catalog’s back-cover map of its retail locations is a “good use of space,” added another panelist.
Patagonia’s flair for the one-two punch of imagery and marketing does not end at the cover. Its “assortment of technical outdoor apparel,” which spans from long underwear to windbreakers, is displayed via “gorgeous lifestyle photography and clean layouts.” In fact, the large, detailed product photos and generous white space “give the merchandise an aura of exclusiveness,” said a judge. The panel did have one criticism of the creative: “There’s no eye contact among anyone in the photos in the whole book,” as one judge put it. Nonetheless, “this is a fun catalog to look at, with some very powerful images interspersed with strong messaging.”
Such messaging includes “what’s in it for me?” copy that educates and entertains the reader. Take this description of the Ridge Rider Jacket: “It’s built to slough off snow, block the wind, and protect your shoulders, sides, and seat from abrasion.” As one judge gushed, “That’s great stuff!” And judges agreed tht the book’s use of product call-out notes, tips, headlines, photo descriptions, and environmental essays consistently addressed the unique challenges and rewards of outdoor sports.
Patagonia’s customer service offerings also keep the special requirements of winter sportsmen in mind. For instance, the company offers the toll-free Patagonia Guide Line, which is an outdoor information and equipment-use hotline. “The bottom line is that Patagonia has trust and credibility,” said one judge.
This sense of trust and credibility left its mark on the judges. “Patagonia’s branding is clearly the best in its industry,” said one panelist. And even judges who have never gone ice-climbing – and likely never will – walked away with newfound respect and knowledge. Quipped one judge, “I learned that there are a lot of places that are really, really cold.”